We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
If you’ve already added such banal Cal Ripken Jr. collectibles as the Cal Wheaties box and the Cal Coke bottle to your post-Streak heap, here’s another prize to sate your Iron Man jones: the Cal children’s book. Written by Rip and co-author Greg Brown, Count Me In (Taylor Publishing) is an effort to teach 10-to-14-year-olds about success through perseverance, based on—what else?—Ripken’s breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive- games record. While the photographs and anecdotes (Ripken played in the longest pro-baseball game of all time: a 33-inning, eight-hour minor-league debacle) are sufficient if slightly tired, the colored-pencil illustrations by Doug Keith are utterly distracting; at least 10 of Keith’s 15 drawings are of Ripken’s back, which will lead readers to wonder whether the artistoverslept the day they taught portraiture. In one puzzling piece, a young Ripken is seen from behind, either staring into center field or nonchalantly relieving himself on home plate. It will be hard for readers to suppress snickers—but then again, we’re talking Cal Ripken Jr., and no matter how bad this book may be, it will look damn good next to that Wheaties box. Count Me In is available in local bookstores.